Training Courses

At this point in time (March 2021) I can confirm that there is one training course available in the Yukon. It take place immediately before the MYAU and is organised by Shelley Gellatly, Jessie Gladish and friends. Stewart and Jo Stirling will hopefully soon be able to give us on update on their plans for next winter.

In general, these local courses offer you the opportunity to do a course and the race on one trip. Other advantages of participating in a course in the Yukon are:

  • you give yourself some time for acclimatisation
  • for the outdoor parts of the course you are on the same or same type of trails you will be on during the MYAU
  • the courses are organised by people with substantial race and Yukon specific winter survival skills

If time and budget allow for it you can of course also do a course one winter and then come back to do the MYAU the next winter.

Both courses aim at teaching you the skills to become confident and proficient at working in cold temperatures allowing you to maximise your potential in the MYAU or similar events and expeditions.

Overview “Survive to Race” – by Stewart Stirling

Please note: These are the course details for 2021. The course information for 2022 still needs to be udated and confirmed.

This course will be run with a maximum of 14 people and is geared towards those entering or intending to enter the MYAU. However, it is also open to anybody doing other winter ultra events or expeditions as the skills of course are not just required for the MYAU.

Time: January 31st – February 4th, 2021

With a maximum group size of 14, there are three instructors who are all experienced veterans of the race and living in the cold. The course director, Stewart is an expedition leader and mountain guide with seven winters in the Yukon behind him.
This residential course lasts four and half days with all transfers, food and accommodation provided. Situated right on the race trail at Braeburn Lake, close to the 100 mile finish, participants will spend a great deal of time out on the trail acclimatising and practicing essential race survival skills. Some lessons will be classroom based and others will be in the outdoors.

It is an opportunity to hone your skills and learn useful information from those around you which will enable you to complete the race safely and successfully. The course will not be overly physically demanding as it focusses on skills and knowledge building rather than physical fitness. Once you have signed up for the race you will get pre-race advice and information to enable you to prepare before you arrive.

The main topics to be covered in the four days will be:

  • Equipment, clothing, footwear and outerwear – Layering for “dry cold”, finding out what works for you in the Yukon, how much to carry and find out what you don’t need
  • Shelter, bivy, tent or tarp and a chance to become familiar with, and adapt, your own shelter for maximum warmth
  • Nutrition – Effects of cold on calorific intake, hydration, how to plan your food
  • Cold weather first aid and hygiene – Recognising cold injuries, prevention of immersion foot, frostbite and hypothermia, what to include in a first aid kit
  • Sled/pulk and harness set up – Become acquainted with your pulk and harness, correct fitting of harness and alternative set ups
  • Operating in extreme temperatures -General awareness of cold conditions, how they affect your body, tips on reducing cold effects, melting snow, coping with cold and wet conditions, body temperature and vapour management.
  • Stoves and cooking – Introduction to the Primus stove, other stoves, lighting and maintenance, use of stove boards
  • Emergency shelter construction and fire lighting – Simple emergency shelters, simple fire starting techniques
  • Race plan/tactics – how to plan your race

Accommodation is at Braeburn Lake in a semi wilderness setting along the trail used in the MYAU. Accommodation will either be in traditional log cabins or heated wall tents. Camp life will not be luxurious with the maximum amount of time spent outside as possible.

For more details, information on cost and booking of the course please go to www.surivetorace.com.

Overview “MYAU Pre-Race Workshop” – by Shelley Gellatly

This course is facilitated by Shelley Gellatly, Jessie Gladish, Marianne Heading and Gillian Smith, all of whom have finished the race several times. Past workshop participants who are returning to the race in 2022, will be participating as well, on the private facebook group.

For 2022 this course was re-designed. Now most of the indoor part of the course will be dealt with online and in the months leading up to the race. The 2 1/2 days outdoor part of the course still takes place in the Yukon and just before the race. Also, the course is now modular, allowing athletes with no extreme cold weather experience to do all of it and other athletes can participate in modules if they want to. Here are the full details provided by Shelley and her team:

What you can expect from this pre-race workshop:

  1. Learn from the hard won knowledge of MYAU race veterans! We are all locals (Marianne is an adopted Yukoner!) and we have spent thousands of hours in the Yukon wilderness and on the MYAU trail.
  2. Receive detailed trail notes and briefings that have been prepared based on our personal experience on the MYAU trail.
  3. Receive help with your race strategy, whether you are trying to “go fast” or “just finish”. The team have different race strengths and experience and will openly share what we have learnt.
  4. Access to a private facebook group as soon as you sign up, to discuss various race topics and questions as they arise. A few past workshop participants will be part of the group as well.
  5. Visit Muktuk Kennels for lunch and see the sled dogs! Then travel the race trail from Muktuk Kennels to the Overland Trail in the daylight, so you can better plan your strategy for race day.
  6. Practice all the essential skills you will need for the race i.e. lighting stoves, making fire, setting up your bivy, resting in your bivy. This will be done during the day and night.
  7. Gear check and advice prior to the race, including a one on one hour session with one of the facilitators prior to arriving in Whitehorse.

Our goal is for you to have an enjoyable experience regardless of what happens on race day! We are all passionate about the trail, the race and the entire MYAU family.

1. Online offer only (cost CAD 400.00)

  • Inclusion on the MYAU Pre-race camp facebook discussion group immediately upon registration.
  • Receive a trail description which the facilitators have personally prepared based on their experience.
  • Book a 1 on 1 online 1 hour meeting with one of the facilitators before arrival in Whitehorse to discuss topics as needed e.g. review kit, etc.
  • Starting at the beginning of October, a series of 5, two and a half hour zoom meetings covering a variety of topics. The schedule and agenda will be available very soon.

2. Day trip only (cost CAD 200.00)

Sunday, Jan 30th – leaving Whitehorse 9:30 a.m. and returning 10:30 p.m.

  • Transportation to Muktuk Kennels and back to Whitehorse following bivy.
  • Lunch at Muktuk
  • Travel the race route from Muktuk Kennels (1st checkpoint) to the start of the Old Dawson Trail. Participants will then have a chance to test out their stove, make a wood fire, and bivy for a few hours before returning to Whitehorse.
    This is an excellent opportunity to ensure your kit and systems are set, prior to the race start.

3. Combo online and In-person offer (cost CAD 900.00) – for athletes who need to take the full course

This includes all the services outlined above, plus

  • 2.5 days of in-person practical training and discussion in Whitehorse (Saturday Jan. 29th – Monday Jan. 31st). Itinerary to be finalized very soon.
  • Transportation to and from trail outings.
  • Lunch on Saturday and Sunday.

Please Note: Participants will be responsible for booking and paying for their own accommodation in Whitehorse during the in-person camp, as well as meals other than those noted above.

For more information on the training course please Shelley at sgellatly@shaw.ca.